When I announced 17 years ago that I was getting divorced, some of our friends were surprisingly more devastated than I was prepared for. They said, “if you guys can’t make it, then who can???”
In a society where divorce seemed commonplace, our friends looked to us as evidence that people can make it together. We failed that expectation.
I’ve seen adult kids question if their lives were a lie when their parents got divorced and they found out that they stayed together for them.
Now take teachers and leaders outside the family; add in sexual assault, corruption, whatever obviously despicable choices they can make.
Where does a student go with this?
For arguments’ sake, let’s agree that political leaders are a slightly different category: we expect them to lie to us at the very least a little bit more than we lie to ourselves.
We hold spiritual leaders, or other leaders that have become our personal mentors, to a much higher standard.
I asked my 17 year old son this morning, “if someone you looked up to – whom you might call a leader, teacher, mentor, etc – did something abusive and inexcusable, would you question everything you learned from them or wonder if what you are doing is a lie?”
He said, “I guess it depends on where you placed your value. Did you place it on the actual person? Or did you place it on what you get from them and take inward to see how the information aligns with your own values? If it was on the person, I guess you’re in trouble. If you didn’t, you’ll be alright.”